Ethics in Educational Technology Project

In the past six months educational technology has received an increasing amount of attention in the media, as many schools and universities have begun teaching at a distance. Rather than a recent fad however, educational technology has a long history going back several decades, although recent events have catalysed uptake. As educational technology becomes increasingly integrated into learning in schools, universities, workplaces, and people’s free-time, it is more important than ever to consider how to use it ethically.

With this in mind, the Open University’s openTEL research group has initiated a project to examine the ethics surrounding technology enhanced learning (TEL). Often ethics is spoken about in relation to one TEL domain (such as AI or learning analytics), but, in reality, most issues span the gamut of topics in TEL. Data ownership is as relevant to accessibility or citizen science as it is to learning analytics. The Ethics in TEL (EthTEL) project therefore examines ethical issues around educational technology holistically.

If you would like to share your experiences and opinions on ethics in educational technology, then EthTEL is currently collecting answers to a short survey. The survey can be accessed at and should take around 10 minutes to complete. Whether you’ve experienced educational technology as a student, educator, learning designer, researcher, or some other role, we’d love to hear from you!

The results of the survey will be posted in a freely available report on the openTEL webpage.

If you’d like to hear more about the EthTEL project then please join us at the next Show and TEL event on 2nd November. Guests external to the OU will be able to join using the link

Young People’s use of nQuire to Ascertain Adults Perception of and Attitudes Towards Single-Use Plastic

By Dr. Charlotte Dean, University of Hull; School of Education

This article describes how young people participating in the University of Hull’s Plastic Citizen project utilised nQuire to tackle a question that they had around exploring adult’s perceptions of and attitude towards single use plastics.  The Plastic Citizen project was just one of several projects, within the University of Hull’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (ESPRC) funded Evolving a Circular Plastics Economy (ECPE) programme, which had the overall aim of tackling some of the key issues and challenges around the problems caused to the environment by excessive use and disposal of single-use plastic. The Plastic Citizen project aimed to do this specifically through examining the attitudes and approaches of young people to the issues relating to the circular plastics economy and by empowering them to undertake and share their own research using Citizen Inquiry methodologies. This transdisciplinary project brought together researchers from three different areas in the University of Hull (Education, Politics and Chemistry), along with external stakeholders such as community-based youth projects, schools and specialist education providers.

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Online Evidence Cafes

Keeping the openTEL tradition of innovation with technology alive, in March 2020 Tina Papathoma ran the first online Evidence Cafe (a type of knowledge exchange event pioneered by the Open University’s Institute of Educational Technology. See here for more details). Tina’s experiences of running the event are available on her blog, and contain many hints and tips to anyone running online workshops or events.

Ethics in Technology Enhanced Learning

A common theme across many openTEL interests is ethics. In 2020 openTEL has initiated a project to better map out the different ethical concerns that surround many different aspects of TEL: from data security to ensuring inclusion and accessibility concerns have been considered. This project is being led by Professor Shailey Minocha, Dr Victoria Murphy, and Professor Eileen Scanlon. Planned activities include:

  • Creating an online environment for inter-disciplinary discussions on ethics in TEL research at the Open University
  • Attending various TEL ethics related events
  • Organising an Evidence Cafe, bringing together various experts on TEL and ethics to map out areas of focus
  • Publishing guidelines on ethical considerations in TEL

If you would like to get involved in the project please send an email to